Europe’s largest steel group, ArcelorMittal, is planning to construct a pilot plant for climate-neutral steel production in Hamburg. The company is relying on the expansion of the Hanseatic city into a hydrogen metropolis, without which CEO Uwe Braun says the plan will not work. According to Braun, the company needs “affordable and available” green hydrogen, which is currently not readily accessible.
The EU approved 55 million euros in federal funding for the pilot plant in February, which Braun describes as a significant step towards CO2-neutral steel production. However, political support from Hamburg is necessary for building up green hydrogen capacities and infrastructure.
At present, the Hamburg plant produces steel using natural gas and the direct reduction process, accounting for around half of the CO2 emissions generated by the traditional coking coal blast furnace process. The aim is to replace natural gas with green hydrogen.
Hamburg has the potential to become a hydrogen metropolis with the best prerequisites for hydrogen production, import, storage, and distribution infrastructure. The city also has potential customers from industry, logistics, and transport. Senator for Economic Affairs Melanie Leonhard stated that the city is mapping out the entire value chain for hydrogen.
ArcelorMittal aims to continue giving companies the opportunity to operate competitively and in a climate-neutral manner. However, the company needs the necessary support and infrastructure from the government and other stakeholders to achieve this goal.
Challenges and controversies surround the plan, including the availability and affordability of green hydrogen. The construction of the pilot plant also raises questions about its potential impact on the environment and the local community. It remains to be seen whether the Hamburg plant can successfully transition to climate-neutral steel production and whether this can be replicated in other parts of the world.